Juan Rodriguez Soriano, MD (2010)


The pediatric nephrology community has lost one of its stars. Juan Rodríguez Soriano was born on March 5, 1933 in Barcelona were he was raised and pursued his education up to and including the medical degree. After several years of general pediatric training at the Clinical Hospital of Barcelona, he won a scholarship at Hôpital des Enfants Malades, and arrived in Paris in October 1959. There, under the chairmanship of Prof. Pierre Royer, pediatricians from anywhere in the world had the unique opportunity to take a course devoted exclusively to the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases in children. At the time, in the adjacent Hôpital Necker, in the department of Prof. Jean Hamburger, nephrology was being born as a specialty distinct from internal medicine. Relationships between the two services were very close, and the joint sessions of pathologic correlations, directed by Dr. Renée Habib, remained indelible in Juan’s memory.

During the ensuing years, the group of Dr. Henry L. Barnett, Chairman of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York, gained prominence in the field of renal pathophysiology. His student, Dr. Chester M. Edelmann, developed the Division of Pediatric Nephrology in the early 60’s, with a strong focus on the investigation of neonatal renal function. With the support of Prof Royer, Juan joined the group in January 1963 as one of its first fellows. The research performed during those years, to which Juan contributed, included the mechanisms of urinary acidification [1,2] and urinary concentration in the newborn [3], and the seminal description of proximal renal tubular acidosis [4,5].

Juan returned to Barcelona in 1967 and became Head of the Clinical Service at the Children’s Hospital Vall d’Hebron. There, he met Maria Jesus Vita, a pediatric radiologist, who became his wife and the mother of their three children. In 1970, he took charge of the Department of Pediatrics at the Hospital Universitario de Cruces, where he remained until his retirement in 2003. At de Cruces, he led a group of young pediatricians, many trained in the U.S., and promoted the training of pediatric subspecialists. His incredible breath of knowledge, teaching skills, analytical ability, and clinical expertise were recognized by all those who had the privilege to work with him. In the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, he continued researching and publishing on renal function tests (6-10) and various tubulopathies (11-17). From the middle of the 90’s he collaborated with Dr. Richard Lifton’s group, at Yale University, and with other investigators, in the search to identify the molecular basis of Bartter syndrome [18,19], renal tubular acidosis [20,21], familial hypomagnesemia with hypercalciuria and nephrocalcinosis[22,23],pseudohypoaldosteronism [24,25], and other genetic disorders. His scientific contributions are described in over 300 publications.

In September 1967 Juan was in Glasgow for the founding of the European Society of Pediatric Nephrology, under the chairmanship of Gavin Arneil. In December 1968 he attended the meeting of the International Society of Pediatric Nephrology in Guadalajara, Mexico, and one of the first meetings of the International Study of Kidney Disease in Children, chaired by Henry Barnett, in Puerto Vallarta. In 1973, Spanish pediatricians founded the Section of Pediatric Nephrology of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, followed by the Spanish Pediatric Nephrology Association, of which Juan was president from 1976 to 1981. He held the Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Health, was an honorary member of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics, was councilor on the IPNA Board from 1990 to 1995, served for several years on the Editorial Board of the Spanish Annals of Pediatrics, and was a member of the Editorial Board of Pediatric Nephrology for two extended periods (1987-1992 and 1995-2002). He will be deeply missed.

Adrian Spitzer
Chester Edelmann

Posted in